Under the Sun, Under the Sea, JocktoberFest 2019
Who doesn’t love a good theme? Who doesn’t love it when a bunch of people get into a theme? Who doesn’t love when a good theme comes off, and the weather pitches in to help as well?
Others thought that such brash predictions were tempting fate, but I was betting on JoockoberFest coming through with the good re the sunshine once more this year, and it came through with aplomb! The weekend before, when it would have potentially been on in previous years, was fucking awful. Might have added to the theme of under the water if everything was literally under the water, but for mine, I am happy that the festival continued to ride its luck of the last few years re weather.
One problem with having the weather that good is the practicalities of seeing the bands. Of course seeing bands in the sun is great, but soaking it in up in the campsite is also a large temptation.
The day leading up on the Friday flowed well. Good progress on some stuff, leaving my brain cleaner of ‘life admin’ for the weekend ahead. Once you get into the mood and the swing of JoctoberFest then happily these things tend to fall away anyway, but a good start was had. We got to the campsite and got set up and had a drink in the sun, and a catch-up. More people came trickling in, and it was easier for a while to greet them and soak in the sun a little more.
After a wee while though Woolly Dermal and I thought we’d get our noses in the arena and see what it felt like.
The first impressions were not good. Actually, that’s both incorrect and harsh. This is J’Fest, and it was looking beautiful. They had set up the theme well, and people were already dressing up. Got to meet the M.U.F.F. Diver in gold before we even got in there. His was one of the best costumes for the weekend, but there kept on being newcomers all the time. Effort and talent = style, it seems.
The layout was slightly different, but where the food vans are isn’t going to make or break the weekend. But coming in, we saw the sides of the Dutch Barn had been walled in. As it turned out, later on part of the back wall could be peeled back to let light in and music out. However, the first impression lead to the thought of whether this was a good or bad change. I’m still not sure. I figure it’s really good for a working farm, and slightly diminished experience for the festival.
Woolley is a fan of photography and loved the light you get through the open barn, so was concerned about the pictures to be taken. These were more professional thoughts than me, in relation to reviews.
I was feeling good, again, about the weekend ahead at Black Isle Brewery. My thoughts centred on what I wanted to do right then and there.
I wanted to stand bang in the sunshine with a pint, and see the band that was starting. However, I was looking instead at the side of a barn.
There’s a reason there’s the term ‘you couldn’t hit the side of a barn.’ It’s because they’re fucking huge. And the band was hidden on the other side, so we wandered in, and the next thing was that they had concreted the floor of the barn. It was a shame from the ambience, and also the feel of the hay and that it is an organic farm with organic feel, but enough of those types of feelings for now. The main feeling is that with walls and a concrete floor to adjust to, the sound production was really hit and miss throughout the weekend. Some was good, some was bouncing all over the shop.
In terms of this, I’ll go straight to the counterbalance of all the good stuff I’m saying around this. The counterbalance came to me when someone mentioned that they had been going for about 13 years as a festival. My base, immediate thought on this was how on Earth they didn’t know how to get their shit together better after having done it that long. Just some things that make you wonder.
There has previously been big board in the arena with running sheets, but this was absent this year. They now had beer barrels behind the stage in the Dutch Barn though, and these were great props.[My thought for free for the Black Isle, if they can’t put a board up of the bands and times on the wall, maybe put them on the front of these barrels. Easy, and much more handy than how things went].
Around about 4ish on the Saturday, I walked in to hear a band started on the Dutch Barn perfectly in the middle of when the sheet said the gap was, so assumed it just the event running a touch late, but who knows. There were last minute leads swaps and dashes to grab equipment between bands, or bands filling in gaps at the last second but just jumping on stage as asked/ required. I did miss details of who I was actually seeing sometimes, however have tried to recreate accurately in the next review, which will be about the music.
The funny thing I find about this is that it is actually a bit shit and disorganised and how they haven’t scrubbed up these sort of things by now is beyond reason. However, it also really, really doesn’t matter that much in a lot of ways either.
The bands were obviously pitching in and have their heart and soul on the line. A number of them even were in the fluro vests directing us in on the Friday night in the car park.
The bar staff were efficient, courteous, managed well and must have taking a huge amount of money for good quality beer over the bar. Who can hate capitalist democracy so much, even in the times of “He who came after May,” when you can be so happy about a business transaction where they quickly get you good beer in exchange for money!?
Along side this, the punters got into it, and so did the weather. What’s not to love. I did love it there again. I do love JoctoberFest! There, you went and made me confess feelings, and I was avoiding trying to review it above on the strength of feelings.
But then again, looking back at it, that is the strong point of the festival. Its brain could use some sharpening, but its heart and soul which is what’ll get me back there again next year. Hope to see some of you back there again, too.